Coping strategies of Vietnamese overseas-trained returnees to do research in home university contexts

Bao Trang Thi Nguyen*, Stephen H. Moore, Vu Quynh Nhu Nguyen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: This study focuses on Vietnamese international students who returned from their overseas doctoral education to home universities in Vietnam (henceforth Vietnamese overseas-trained returnees). The purpose is to explore the experience of these returnees “doing research” (i.e. being research active) when resuming a lecturing role at a Vietnamese regional university. In the context of research now receiving heightened attention in both the wider global higher education (HE) discourse and the Vietnamese HE sector, this study is timely and provides valuable insights. Design/methodology/approach: In total, 76 Vietnamese overseas-trained returnees from varied disciplinary backgrounds completed a questionnaire on their research motivation and their perceived constraints doing research. Eighteen subsequently took part in semi-structured interviews. The study draws on the notion of human agency from the sociocultural perspective to understand the coping strategies of the Vietnamese overseas-educated returnees in response to the challenges they encountered. Findings: The results show that the returnees' motivations to conduct research varied, fuelled by passion, but constrained by multiple factors. Time constraints, heavy teaching loads, familial roles and lack of specialized equipment are key inhibiting factors in re-engaging in research for these returnees. Addressing them necessitated a great deal of readaptation, renegotiation and agentive resilience on the part of the returnees in employing different coping strategies to pursue research. Practical implications: The paper argues for a subtle understanding of the returnees' experience of re-engaging in research that is both complex and contextual. Implications are drawn for research development in the regional Vietnamese HE context and perhaps in other similar settings. Originality/value: There is little empirical knowledge about how Vietnamese returned graduates – university lecturers – continue doing research after their return. Also underexplored in global discourse is research on foreign-educated returnees doing research, while they are an important source of human resources. The present study, therefore, fills these research gaps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-259
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Comparative Education and Development
Issue number3
Early online date15 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2021


  • Vietnamese overseas-trained returnees
  • research active
  • agency
  • research constraints
  • readaptation
  • coping strategies


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